Thursday, January 31, 2013

It’s Football Banquet Day!

I’m looking forward to a very special event tonight.  One I’ve been fortunate to have been a part of twice before.  I’m very excited about it – although anxious too.  It has tremendous meaning to me, especially this year.
Tonight is the varsity football banquet.  A chance to once again spend time with the entire team, their parents, the cheerleaders,  the coaches and the staff that so faithfully helped put each game together and assisted with all the practices and the behind the scenes efforts to run the club.  
It’s a family unto itself and I’m blessed to be a part of it!  These are amazing people who donate time, effort, food and open up their homes to the players weekly for socializing. Keeping them all organized is tough! I can’t wait to be in their space again, however brief it might be.
I know this banquet has been no small undertaking and that a lot of thought and care has been injected into it on Chris’s behalf.  I’m giving a shout out of thanks to everyone ahead of time here - but I fear it will never be heartfelt enough when I say it out loud tonight.  I truly appreciate everything, I know it hasn’t been easy and I know I don’t know half the details of what’s been done in putting the evening together.
Chris passed on December 1st.  The original date for the banquet was to have been December 6th however, Deanna was buried that day and Chris’ wake hadn’t even happened yet.  Everything was postponed until a more appropriate time when the focus could be on the celebration of the players and their fabulous season.  It’s well deserved by every one of them.  I’m looking forward to applauding them and embracing as many as I can get my hands on.  They’re such great kids with generous and kind hearts. 
Some introductory season for Coach Clawson…  It will be locked in his memory for more reasons than I’m sure he’d care to think about.  He definitely didn’t sign up for this kind of kickoff in his career but what a magnificent job he and his coaching staff have done with our boys. Well done!  Tonight we get to revel in the highs of this brotherhood, of this football family and the camaraderie between us. 
I had a conversation with Coach Clawson not too long ago when he was sharing details about the events to come at the banquet.  I’m not so great with surprises these days and have a need to know what’s happening.  I had one probing question plaguing me that Coach was able to soothe… I wanted to know if any award Chris may be receiving was genuine.  I only wanted him to win it at the banquet tonight if he was going to have won it on December 6th.  I don’t like the idea of Chris being gifted an award he didn’t earn just because of the accident.   
Coach Clawson told me that all the award winners had been chosen well before the accident and whatever Chris might receive tonight was deserved. WHEW!! Tonight, Mike and I won’t be accepting anything Chris wouldn’t himself have stepped forward to receive had he been here on December 6th for the original banquet ceremony.  I’m really pleased about that!

I wish all the players a wonderful night tonight.  Whether they’re sophomores, juniors or seniors they played a wonderful season together and I’m so happy to sit alongside them. 
I anticipate shedding tears of joy and sadness with all the people Chris loved.  Chris will be with us.   

We will honor him and remember him and that will be special.  Together we will celebrate the end of his high school varsity football career and I know he’ll be right up front smiling and cheering as each of your names are called to be recognized as a part of SHEN football.  I love you guys, keep his spirit going by doing good things for yourself and others.  Chris would want that today and always. 
  Thank you for reading.  GO SHEN!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Isn’t it interesting how life takes on a whole new meaning when something profound happens?  I was on what seemed to be a stable path when all of a sudden it took a sharp turn.  Everything shifted through no doing of mine.  The loss of control is very hard to accept.
It got me to thinking about the career path I never took and how it came to change so quickly in college.  It’s a shame in a way because I’m left to wonder... I might have been very good at the job field I never went into!
I can’t be unique in my thoughts.  I’m sure some of you had planned for a different career too.  Circumstances tend to change things. That thing called “life” happens and along the journey new routes are carved for us to choose as options. What fork in the road didn’t you take at one of those pivotal times? Did you change course on careers like me?  There are times I think about that.  Seems even more so recently because I'm more acutely aware of what I have control over and what I don't.  Sometimes we create the change ourselves and sometimes it’s out of our hands completely.
I had one of those life changing experiences in college.  I remember it was a big deal in my life and it upset me.  It was a combination of my own doing as well as my professors but I like to blame him!  I should have known better than to let it get the better of me – but live and learn.  I turned out just fine but my career could very well have been different.  I had plans to go into Psychology.  I love the inner workings of the brain and what makes people tick. I took Psych in high school, loved it and decided it was my path.
I’m not a Psychologist; I never made it past my first year in college.  I changed majors and went into Business Administration instead. I like it very much thankfully.  I'm still bothered by my bad experience freshman year of college though.  I truly had a terrible professor who had well overstayed his time in the classroom.  He was tired out, had many, many years of teaching under his belt and he really no longer cared.  It was a real shame, he has no idea how he affected me - and I'm sure others.  I got a "D" my first semester and was so disappointed I gave up.  I thought it was me.  It didn't dawn on me until many years later that someone else instigated my change of direction.  At the time I figured I wasn't so good at it, being that I nearly failed so I quit and choose another path.  I find it interesting to be able to turn around so many years later and look back at that time in my life so clearly now.
The business world is a good place for me.  There are plenty of personalities to get to know and analyze.  I like to learn about my co-workers lives and hobbies and families.  I've even formed relationships with the FedEx guy; Jack, the coffee salesman; Bill and the evening office cleaner; Harold.  Not sure I could have done that as a Psychologist.  I'm glad to know these people. Yes, it's different than I had expected but it's still good.  My professor can't take that!  I'm where God wants me to be, doing what he planned for me all along. There's a reason I spend time with the ones around me and a reason I'm in their path too.
Here's hoping you're headed down the path you chose for yourself.  If so, good for you!  If not, what are you going to do about it?  Don't let the "crappy professor" in your life alter your plans!  Focus forward and keep plugging along.  It'll be worth it to pat yourself on the back and know you did it regardless of the hurdles.  
Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I spent Sunday visiting Jeremy at college.  
I had the pleasure of running errands with him and heading out for a bite to eat.  We had a really nice day together.
On my ride to and from school, about four hours round trip, I listened to Christopher’s iPod.  It ran the gamut of genres from soft rock to heavy metal to country.  Every time a song ended I was clueless what to expect.  He had eclectic taste in music.  I never really heard his playlists before because he had his ear buds in most of the time.  I really like Nickelback, Jesse  J.  and Three Doors Down but I’m not wild about Disturbed or Lil Wayne… (I actually texted Bailey to complain about the language in some of the songs – it’s horrible!)  I learned to fast forward quickly.  How can some of these singers get rich on such crap???  Tasteless garbage (ha hah!)
I brought my little dog Happy with me to college.  Our ride over and back was uneventful thankfully.  He snoozed in the back seat both ways.  That got me to thinking about Chris and our college visits last year.  Why was it he always got comfy with his pillow and headphones while I did the driving?  What’s up with that???  How was that decided and by whom?!!  I took Chris and his buddy Brian to several colleges and they had the best naps ever… They got to wake up upon arrival.  Hmmmm, spoiled kids! 
As I drove to see Jeremy I could feel Chris present in the front seat… I could almost see him reclined back a bit with his neck pillow wrapped around him and his iPod thumping in his ears. Just like those college trips.  I could hear him sigh comfortably and give me that little brat smile knowing full well I was gonna do all the driving while he relaxed.   It made me smile. 
I talked to him on and off the whole time.  I knew he was beside me.  I know he went out to eat with us and shop with Jeremy and me too.  Of course he came along; he loved restaurant dining and could spend my money at the stores easily and with gusto.  They both can and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Jeremy and I left Happy in his dorm room while we were out.  His neighbor Dan took on dog sitting duty keeping the little guy company.  Thanks Dan :-)  We were able to take our time without worry and had a leisurely brunch without rushing. Happy has a tendency to get into things and create messes like any two year old.  At one point he made a break for the door and took off down the hall escaping past Jeremy’s legs.  He’s a fast SOB.  We got him back – but not until he stormed the dorm hallway.  When you’re tiny and weigh ten pounds and come upon that long, open corridor it must spur on the desire to race… I’ll bring him back to exercise again.  Those long halls are perfect for winter running and so much warmer than spending time outside. 
When I got back to the house at dinnertime I headed right for Christopher’s room to say hello.  Why?  I have no idea… I felt he had been alongside me all day but for some reason I just breathe easier when I go to his space each time I get home.  I only need a minute to take a look around to be sure everything’s in its place.  There must be something psychological to it…some kind of closure or comfort factor?  It seems to work for me. 
So, I had a good weekend.  Spent some nice one on one time with Jeremy and was able to enjoy the weekend with very little down time.  I’m thankful for that – and thankful to Jeremy and Chris for giving me that peace.

Thank you for reading

Monday, January 28, 2013


I used to secretly crack up and the cuteness of the relationship between Chris and Bailey.

How fun to be in love for the first time, to encounter that whole new world of feelings and take in all the new experiences.  I recall a few conversations with Chris on the renewed importance of cleanliness.  I told him Bailey wouldn't last long in his life if he didn't shower often and rinse off that football sweat! (I got the eye roll from him)...  Of course I was thrilled that there was someone new to help me instill in him the whole shower concept - it took the pressure off me to push him into the bathroom.  He had a reason to smell good :-)

I liked the longevity of his showers because he was in such a good mood when he had plans to head out on a date.  I could hear him singing thru the door and behind the glass as the shampoo lather spilled to the floor.  You know the sound it makes, there's a certain noise when it splats down.  Aren’t the acoustics in the bathroom the best?  I think I sound good in there too.  
What I didn't care for too much was the smell of the body spray Chris drowned himself in. Axe.  Oh wow was that strong!  He put on a lot of the aerosol spray and it left a fog in his room and trailed behind him down the stairs and out the door.  Truly?  I can't say I miss that, it gave me a headache.  I still have the can of course, I just don't sniff it.  I leave it to look at only.

I'm sure you're aware and maybe even thought about the fact that I still have all of Chris's "stuff"... You've probably wondered what I did with it and if I ever planned to talk about it. His toothbrush, comb, box of Q-tips, razor, old prescriptions bottles, mouthwash, sunscreen, hair gel, etc. is still in its spot.  I'm happy seeing it all right where it was left.  I like it and will move it when I'm good and ready.  Not yet.  Chris had his own bathroom so it's not in my way and I enjoy seeing his messy space.  He never cared if his sink was cleaned or his mirror was clean.  I tidied it when I couldn't stand it anymore.  He didn't worry about it one way or the other.  Today it sits as it was.
Back at Christmas I brought Bailey a bottle of "Manhattan Beach" fragrance body wash that she gave Chris.  I actually had two bottles of the same thing in the shower.  Maybe she bought them both, I have no idea.  Each had been somewhat used by Chris and so I thought well, maybe Bailey wants to smell this from time to time?  I know I do.  It'll remind her of him and that would be good. I certainly didn't shop at Hollister, it wasn't anything I bought him and I won't miss one bottle since I have the other.  I hope she's glad I brought one to her.

It was very sweet the way Chris raced out the door when he was headed to Bailey's house or one of her diving practices.  He used to bring his backpack full of homework and I always wondered if any of it got done.  Dawn Wind tells me it did so I'll go with that...  
Chris' enthusiasm was infectious though.  He miraculously was never hungry for dinner if it meant it would set him back an extra ten minutes in leaving to see Bailey.  I understood that. I never asked him to stay and eat.  I know what his priority was, especially since they didn't go to school together and he didn't see her all day long.  He was jumping out of his skin to be in her space.  I loved how in love he was.  I was happy for him.

I used to send Dawn texts and tell her I was coming down to her house.  They had so much fun there.  They would dance and cook and color and paint their nails (yes Chris got roped into nail painting)... 
He also did Bailey's hair.  He used the straightening iron on it.  He loved to play with her gorgeous long hair!

They had some really great dates.  I can't stand mini golf personally, but they enjoyed it along with shopping, ice cream eating, Lake George treks and movies... Among all the other things teens like such as school sporting events, proms and hanging out at friend’s houses.  
The Winds took Chris with them many places including Six Flags and Boston. They even had planned a trip to see the Bruins but the NHL season was cancelled in December.  I was horribly boring in comparison.  I took them apple picking and that's about it.
Chris and Bailey had one of those sweet love affairs.  They wandered in and out of each other’s houses very comfortably.  They let themselves in and there were times when they were at each other’s house when the other one wasn't even home.  Sometimes Bailey was at my place when I got home from work and Chris wouldn't get home for half an hour, didn't matter. They were welcome in either place all the time. I remember a text from Dawn early on, she told me her husband really liked Chris.  She went on to say she was floored by it because like any father of a teenage daughter, he didn't like ANY boy who took an interest in his child.  Chris was no ordinary boy though.  He was really special and it was impossible not to love him.  I'm so glad he found his way into their hearts and home.  The love was everywhere around Chris and Bailey.  It still is.

Thank you for reading.